With all of the rainy and stormy weather we’ve had lately, the girls hadn’t gotten any “backyard” time in over a week, so they were very excited to get to spend nearly the whole day outside yesterday. Unfortunately, somebody’s been laying in the afternoon instead of the morning, and got the egg-laying urge while fenced in the back yard and unable to get back to a nest box – so she made her own nesting spot in between two of my geraniums!
Luckily, I searched the back yard after I put the girls back in their coop for the evening, since I new I was still short an egg based on the 3 a day I’ve been getting. It was too funny finding an egg in a flower pot, though.
The coop got a few (very) minor changes this weekend, with some larger changes planned. Isn’t the “Farm Fresh Butt Nuggets” sign that my mom bought for me awesome? I’d still like to get a picture frame to put around it on the coop.
Today, though I finally got around to putting a piece of 2×4 in the egg door as a threshold so pine shavings are less likely to come spilling out when I open the egg door, which happens quite badly if it’s windy.
I also had Destin cut a 2×4 for me to use to replace the branch perch inside the hen house. More information that I’ve read online suggests that the broad side of a 2×4 is easier for a hen to perch on than a branch, and that their feet are more suited to sitting flat than gripping. This seems to also be a good type of perch in the winter, so they can sit on their feet better to keep them warm in the cold weather. At this point, I’m also planning on replacing the perch in the run with a 2×4 as well, and maybe figuring out how to add a second perch to the run, since the girls are going to be getting less and less “back yard time” as we get further into fall and winter.
We still need to install some hooks – or get hood or liftgate struts for a vehicle – to hold the inside hen house door open, but I’m so glad that I made the entire wall open, instead of just the section between the upright 2x4s that you can see. It makes it so quick to rake the dirty shavings down into the run so that I can put clean shavings in the hen house. For now, I’m going to see how it goes doing a slow building deep litter in the run – just letting the shavings from the hen house start to compost in the run. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll have to check out a different option!
The girls got half a big zucchini out of my garden today, and it was a hit. The last time I checked on them, it was very little more than a zucchini shell.
I do need to get some plastic sheeting to put along the outside of the back wall of the run. I’m not sure if the rain is just splashing off the cement behind the coop (the roof drains to the back) and into the run, or if the rain was going at quite an angle, but even part of their hanging feeder got wet in the last week. I saw a neat idea on Backyard Chickens where instead of just attaching plastic sheeting directly to the frame of the coop to keep out rain and harsh winter winds, the plastic sheeting is attached to lattice, which is then attached to the coop – giving it a nicer look, making it easier to put up and take down, and stabilizing the plastic a bit. I wish there was a good way to attach a gutter to the back of the roof, and run it into a rain barrel!
Before next summer comes, I also need to work out a shade solution for the end of the run under the hen house, so the girls have a spot in the run that they can be in the shade when it’s 90+ degrees out. I’m thinking picket fence, very narrowly spaced? Ideas are welcome!
Another change that we need to make is to put a base around the outside bottom of the coop in the form of 6″ or higher cedar siding boards – partly to see if it will help to keep the rain splashes out, but mainly to keep the litter from the run in. It’s amazing how much debris can get successfully flung/shoveled through 1/2 hardware cloth by three energetic hens.
(Dad, I hope you’re taking notes, since you’d been asking about details for my coop, how I liked it, and what I would change 😉 )
So far, Henrietta and Athena haven’t been smart enough to put themselves to bed in the hen house, instead of roosting in the run, so I’ve decided to start moving them into the hen house at night to see if they get the idea. Since we had to trim Penelope’s wings because she wouldn’t stay in the yard, and would lead the other two out of it, she has trouble getting up onto the roost in the run, so she’s been putting herself to bed in a nest box… which I’m also trying to discourage, but I’m not sure how, short of closing off the nest boxes at night. On a windy night, there’s a noticeable temperature difference between the run and the hen house, and it would be good to get them sleeping in the hen house before the temperature is regularly dropping below freezing at night. Have any of my chicken-keeping friends had trouble with this?